USAC During 2004

After much hassle finding the right bearings we finally got them onto the trailer and despite the artic conditions the two Andy's, Kevin and Dan made plans to head for Kyle of Lochalsh on Sunday morning to dive the Port Napier. The boat hadn't been out for a while so we met on Saturday afternoon to fill cylinders, check oil, get the O2 kit out so that Sunday morning would go as smoothly as possible. Everybody apart from Malcolm and Helga will have noticed that this week wasn't the warmest third week in November on record but that was not going to deter us!!

With the boat all sorted we decided on a last weather check later that night, if it snowed again we wont go, but anything else and we're off. Early on Sunday morning we met at the Achnasheen turn, it hadn't snowed, but it wasn't great weather, freezing rain, still dark and what's more Kevin only had enough petrol to get to Contin which was still closed at that time in the morning....which frankly any wise person would be!

Arriving in Kyle in one piece (just) we got to getting everything sorted as quickly as was belting down and soon bus shelters were being used as changing rooms. The boat was launched and ready to go all by 0945.... that must have been a USAC record, surely something had to go wrong, nothing is ever this easy when we go diving.... The wreck was breaking the surface as the tide was on the rise and Dan and Kevin dived first. Dropping in just above the stern, we started our dive by the mine laying tunnels and then moved round to see the prop shaft. The visibility was pretty good, but not fantastic though it was much much warmer in the water than out of it!

As we came back on to the deck area moving our way forwards, on the seabed beneath us we could see the old trolleys used to wheel the mines out of the stern and then various parts of superstructure that survived the explosion when she went on fire during loading in Kyle during WW2.

Moving further towards the bow we were totally oblivious to the ever decreasing weather on the surface so as the time flew by we continued exploring parts of the wreck, passing the funnel, masts and where the wheelhouse should have been! Just forward of here we ventured though into the main hold and squeezed along between two of the decks... emerging just aft of the two 4 inch guns on the bow. When Kevin realised what he was looking at there was no need for any signing to explain, his smile could been seen around his reg.